Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Chicken Activism!

Dear Suzy Kelly,

It was nice to meet you tonight after the City Council Meeting. I appreciate your willingness to do some research on the matter of urban micro-flocks and local zoning ordinances.

I am working on your concerns about chicken waste. I have contacted "AskHRGreen.org" for expert advice about the potential impacts, positive or negative, of chicken manure and related compost piles on our watershed. I will let you know when and if I get a reply. In the meantime, I found this article that talks about the waste of chickens vs. other household pets and its uses in the garden: http://suite101.com/article/make-your-garden-grow-with-poultry-poop-a219349. I am sure you could find other articles, or perhaps some universities have research they can share. Everything I have read says that a small flock of hens produces less poop than dogs or cats, that it is less offensive to the nose, and that unlike dog or cat waste it can be composted.

Chickens get the reputation for smelling bad due to large commercial operations, which keep thousands of birds in a small, confined space, and they do not clean the hen house often enough. Any animal would smell bad when raised in such deplorable conditions.

In response to your question about the hens' housing set-up, that can be different according to the owners' preferences and what the zoning laws allow. There are permanent coops that are like sheds, there are permanent pens or runs, and there are portable coops and runs. The portable set-ups are sometimes called "chicken tractors." There are a variety of examples of coops and runs at http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/chicken-tractors-mobile-chicken-coop-designs. Some are aesthetically quite pleasing.

I have an acquaintance whose property is zoned R-E 1. She can and does legally have four hens as pets. If (sic) have contacted her to see if we can arrange to make her set-up available to you and to other Council Members who would like to see what a well-managed micro-flock looks, sounds, and smells like. Perhaps a field-trip can be arranged? Let us know!

**Update on 7/18/12: Suzy Kelly wants to take us up on the field trip to the pet hens. Also, we've been contacted by a local television news station about a potential future story. We have over 500 signatures on our online petition. Things are looking up!

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